ECI in New York at the Opening Session of the 68th UN General Assembly

New York - The European Coalition for Israel sent a delegation to New York in tandem with the Opening Session of the 68th UN General Assembly in the last week of September. This is the third consecutive year that ECI has been present in New York during this important week, when each of the 193 UN member states sends their government leaders to the UN.

At ECI, we see this week as a golden opportunity to reach out to governments and UN diplomats in support of Israel. The logic is simple: rather than travelling to 193 nations, one can reach many of them in New York during one and the same week. Whilst the main focus of ECI remains Europe, this is one expression of ECI’s global outreach to the nations. We want to thank all our supporters for their prayer and financial help for this mission.

The ECI Delegation consisted of Perrine Dufoix, Tomas Sandell, Judy Littler Manners and Gregory Lafitte.

New ECI campaign scores first victory:
UN considers accepting Yom Kippur as UN holiday

New York - The United Nations is, for the first time, considering recognising Yom Kippur as a UN holiday, thus enabling Israeli and Jewish officials officially to celebrate Yom Kippur as a paid holiday. On Monday, September 30th, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Zev Elkin, presented the request to UN Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, who promised to consider the question. Earlier in the year, one of the UN Under-Secretary Generals sent an internal memo to all divisions of the UN making them aware of the Jewish holidays and asking them not to organise important meetings on these dates. The memo has not had any effect on the planning of the Opening Week of the UN General Assembly which this year took place during the Jewish holiday of Succot - the Feast of Tabernacles.

The initiative asking the UN to recognise Yom Kippur as a UN holiday was part of an ECI portfolio of new initiatives which were presented to the Israeli Government in Jerusalem during the last week of August. A first draft resolution was circulated amongst some of the UN missions prior to the arrival of the ECI delegation in New York. The resolution has now been embraced by the Israeli Government as one of their UN priorities and may soon be presented as a resolution to be considered by the UN General Assembly.

In New York, the Israeli Delegation praised its partnership with ECI and asked that we spend more time in New York - the headquarters of the UN, and Geneva - the European seat of the UN, to counter the activities of the anti-Israel lobby groups.

ECI is also discussing new ways to promote the San Remo Declaration with the Israeli Government. It was in April 2010, that ECI commemorated the 90th Anniversary of the signing of the long-forgotten San Remo Declaration which paved the way for the creation of the Jewish state. In recent years, the Israeli Government has begun to pay more attention to this argument, and next year may be the first occasion for us to celebrate the anniversary together.

As ECI steps up its efforts to present the legal foundations of the Jewish state and claim its rights in the EU and the UN, some other Christian organisations are planning to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017 by demanding that the British Government revokes the Declaration!

The diplomatic and spiritual battle for the historical and legal narrative on Israel is growing in intensity. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and financial giving, to ensure that there is a strong united Christian voice in support of Israel at the UN and in the EU.

20 years after the Oslo Peace Accords, 
Norwegian Foreign Minister threatens to stop funding of PA if “Israel does not make peace”

New York - The outgoing Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide (picture), threatened to stop the funding of the Palestinian Authority ”if Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians”. The threat was expressed in meetings with ECI in New York two weeks ago as Eide made his last visit to the UN as Foreign Minister. Norway is one of the leading donors to the PA and is currently chairing the influential Donors' Conference.

‘If Israel does not make peace, we may have to leave the Israeli Government to deal with their occupied territories by themselves’, he said. His statement reflected a one-sided criticism of Israel, while refusing to hold the PA responsible for its actions. The Palestinian Authority openly broke its commitments stated in the Oslo Accords when it brought its statehood bid to the UN General Assembly in November last year.  Norway voted in favour of PA unilateral statehood, although it clearly breached the Oslo Accords.

Despite his threats, Eide was optimistic about the outlook for peace.

‘Hamas is weakened and the West Bank is today one of the most stable areas in the region’, he said. ‘The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved’, he said, but complained that the Israelis appeared to be content with the status quo.

On the question as to why the Gulf States are not contributing financially to the Palestinians, he had no answer, but reiterated that there is currently a general donor fatigue. ‘If there is no progress in the peace talks in the next nine months, the international community may leave the conflict to the two parties to resolve’, he warned.

The Norwegian Labour Government, which has had an active role in the peace process, was ousted in the parliamentary elections last month and Mr Eide will have to step down as Foreign Minister. The outgoing Norwegian Government came under intense pressure earlier this year for having tried to cover up the fact that Norwegian funds had been used to support convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.

It is still unclear what role the new Norwegian Government will take in the Middle East peace process. The new right-wing government is considered by many to be pro-Israel. Some critics have accused the outgoing Labour Government of being one of the most anti-Israeli parties in Europe, with a strong lobby to boycott Israel into accepting a peace deal. ECI is planning to meet with the new Norwegian Government as soon as it is installed.

ECI campaign starting to show results?
Several EU member states opposed to EU guidelines on the disputed territories

Brussels - A growing number of EU member states are starting to express criticism of the EU guidelines concerning the disputed territories in Judea and Samaria. The guidelines were introduced by the European Commission in July while parliaments were in recess. The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte (picture), is the first formally to come out against the guidelines, stating that the Netherlands will not change its policies on the disputed areas. In his statement, he contradicted previous announcements made by his own Foreign Minister - that the Netherlands would start removing the Made in Israel label from goods from the disputed territories. The discussion continues in the Netherlands.

In ECI meetings in recent weeks in Brussels and New York, it has become clear that, in addition to the Netherlands, also Germany, Poland and Czech are expressing opposition to the EU guidelines, although they say it may be difficult to stop them completely. In a meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, Henryka Moscika-Dendy in New York, she reiterated the Polish opposition to the guidelines calling them “unhelpful”, but conceded that the best they could hope for was a compromise. According to Moscicka-Dendy, this is the price that member states will have to pay for the growing power of the European Commission.

ECI has been in active contact with the Dutch Government in the last few months through our Legal Counsel, Andrew Tucker, who is also the Executive Director of Christians for Israel International. Tucker has presented the Dutch Government with the ECI Open letter, which states why the EU guidelines are flawed and should be changed. In the letter we note that the guidelines would make life more difficult for Palestinians who are currently employed by Israeli companies in the disputed territories. These workers would in fact lose their jobs if the guidelines were to be implemented whereas the Israeli companies could relocate their production to areas inside the 1967 lines.

In the next two months, ECI plans to present the same arguments to the other governments in the EU member states. Thank you for your help in prayer and financial support to make this ambitious project possible!

ECI strengthens its office with new co-worker in Paris 

Paris - ECI is happy to announce the arrival of Perrine Dufoix (picture) to the ECI Leadership Team. After many years of close cooperation and support, Perrine Dufoix will now officially become part of the ECI staff by taking on a part-time leadership role. Ms. Dufoix has a background in law and has also worked in media. She is the former Secretary General of Fondation France-Israel and was part of the cabinet of the last French government. In addition to Perrine Dufoix, the ECI Executive Committee currently consists of Harald Eckert, Andrew Tucker, Katariina Salmi and Tomas Sandell.

Do you want to pray for ECI and Israel?

In ECI we take prayer seriously. Each week we send out a prayer request with concrete prayer topics. This is not another weekly report, but simply items for prayer. Please let us know if you wish to receive these prayer requests. Because of the confidential nature of some of the prayer items, we will ask for references for those who wish to be added to the list. Remember that the First Friday of the month is a day to pray and fast for ECI. Some are called to educate, others to advocate but we are all called to pray!

Still a few places left at the ECI 10th Anniversary Policy Conference 13th November

Next month, on November 13th, ECI will host the 10th Anniversary Policy Conference in the European Parliament, followed by a gala dinner. There are still a few places available for those who are interested in attending the conference. On November 14th ECI is hosting a Pastors' Conference as well as a Young Leaders' Consultation. For more information please contact the office at info@ec4i.org